The ink has dried on an exciting new research agreement set to benefit farmers as an agricultural research and training institution in the State’s South West embarks on a new chapter.
Boyup Brook’s Rylington Park — which hosts shearing schools, runs research trials, seminars and industry events — this month entered into a memorandum of understanding with Edith Cowan University.
It will allow the university to train students and conduct research at the Shire-owned 650ha property 27km north of town, with on-farm findings applicable to growers elsewhere in the grainbelt.
Shire of Boyup Brook chief executive Dale Putland called the 20-year MOU a “win-win” that could bolster opportunities to attract and secure significant industry research grant funding.
“It’s fantastic — the possibilities are endless,” he said. “The main thing for the Shire is the results of the research and trials are shared with the agricultural community.
“So anything they can develop here, trial, adapt, they can get their academic papers — which is fantastic for the university — and we can get on-ground research done which we can share with local farmers.”
ECU employment and industry professor Kerry Brown called the farm a “living laboratory” that would allow the university to undertake “real-world applied research” and make a “lasting contribution” to the agricultural industry.
“For our researchers, the ability to have access to a single farm for ongoing monitoring of on-farm activities is a significant opportunity to develop long-term research studies that may supply solutions to challenging farm issues including climate change, livestock and crop management,” she said.
“The MOU will foster a significant partnership based on ECU’s desire to contribute to improving farm practice and management, and support broader regional development.”
At the moment, farm managers Marc and Erlanda Deas are running a mob of non-mulesed Merinos, as well as investigating the application of smart tags, geo-sensing, geo-location and the use of drones.
A number of other trials are also taking place at the Shire-owned property.
“We’ve been looking at how different varieties of canola can be grown here … growing some turnips for cattle feed … and there are quite a number of pasture trials as well that are being conducted, driven by some of the local produce suppliers,” Mr Putland said.
“We’re also looking at some fencing varieties and putting them up to demonstrate what it looks like on the ground, how easy they are to install and farmers can make a decision whether it’s suitable for their farm.”
Professor Brown said research would be conducted on a wide variety of topics including carbon neutral and regenerative farming, farm automation, training and improving the precision of monitoring waterlogging, frost and soil amelioration.
Livestock, paddock and infrastructure management using sensors, smart-farm technologies, drone use, cyber security and supply chain and logistics research are also on the agenda.
Professor Brown said the university had a “particular expertise in agricultural technologies and management in the context of climate change and sustainability”.
“Evidence-based responses to changing climates and new farming practices are critical to building farm viability and community prosperity,” she said.
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